Translating a Chinese Curse

I’m rereading my James Clavell, and in at least two of the books there is a Cantonese curse that supposedly is the Worst of the Worst, enough to make the listeners turn white or faint.

It’s Dew neh loh moh.

Can anyone translate, and what does it mean? I apologize for offending anyone…I’m just curious.

I don’t know the context of Clavell’s usage, but sites in this search seem to equate the phrase with “Shit!”, as a WAG.

He also uses baka in the book, which I took to mean “shit.” The other one seems to be incredibly offensive, almost personal. Maybe Clavell was playing up the word usage for dramatic effect.

“Baka” is Japanese for “fool.” Doesn’t sound that bad to our ears, but, for the Japanese, it’s a baaaad word. In regards to the other curse, I don’t speak Cantonese but that seems like an awful lot of syllables for “shit.” Perhaps it includes advice on what to with said shit?

<mostly offpoint>

Baka is “idiot” in japanese.

</mostly offpoint>

Well, the book is set in 1860s Japan, with Chinese servants serving the gai-jin (hence the name of the book) so I apologize for confusing Japanese with Cantonese phrases.

Clavell has done a wonderful job depicting life in Japan and China, and I’m getting ready to reread Noble House, where dew neh loh moh is used quite often to devasting effects. I don’t think it’s made up.

Ivylass, I have e-mailed your question to my brother; his wife is native Chinese. Perhaps they can answer it. :cool:

fuck your mother

Interestingly enough (or not?) a google groups search shows it being used in enlish often with “on you” after, which would support the translation of shit."dew+neh+loh+moh"&sa=N&tab=ig

And what do you base this assumption on?

Thanks, NinetyWt. I hope your SIL doesn’t slap your brother for asking the question. :wink:

The assumption is that my Cantonese girlfriend is not lying to me. That’s what she said when I asked her. Or do you think what she said might have been directed at me personally? Do you think she might have found out about that fling I had? I hope not. :wink:

I hope that’s a minimum of 70% post-consumer electrons, sailor

Sorry, Ivylass, he wasn’t much help:

Sounds like this is one of the bad bad cussing things (re:sailor)

BTW I read that and at first I thought HUH ??? why’s he cussing?? then I realized he was answering the question :smack: duh me

Well, then, is it a command, as in Go F— Your Mother, or is it just a general F— You, except instead of “you,” it’s a relative?

Sailor, thank your girlfriend for me. Now I need to know why it’s considered so horrifying. (At least in the Clavell books.)

My ex girlfriend, who’s parents were immigrants from Hong Kong and a friend who served a mormon mission to Hong Kong both told me that it translates literally to “fuck your old woman”, which is the same as “fuck your mother”.

I am Cantonese myself, and yes the phrase does indeed mean “fuck your mother”. Nowadays, its “level of badness” is roughly similar to “fuck you” in English and it is used in exactly the same context. There are always more ways to curse in Cantonese :slight_smile:

dew - fuck
neh - you/your
loh moh - An informal/disrespectful/insulting word that means mother. Depending on the context, it can be considered a mild profanity. Can’t think of an equivalent English word that has the same meaning.

fuck your old mother literally. It’s pretty common in Hong Kong - they swear a lot. Not polite but in many circles it’s a pretty common expression and do hear it probably a hundred times a day in HK. There are much worse expressions in Cantonese

Now try Diw ley lo mo chao hai!

Now let’s not get nasty, diw lo sup ba zhou zhong

(Christ, i don’t know how to romanize cantonese, anyoo, something to do with fuck you backwards in time for 18 generations :o )

Pok gai, your Cantonese transliteration is indeed gau lun si.

Mind you, so’s mine, as I can’t do tones.